Interview with Frances Chan

Frances Chan
Frances Chan
Sunshine Group
Sunshine Group

China will remain indispensable in world textile economic system
The Chinese textile and garment industry is facing a tough competition globally. But, as the largest exporter in the world, China will remain indispensible in world textile economic system. In an exclusive interview with Wen Zhongwei, Frances Chan, chairwoman of Jiangsu, China based Sunshine Group talks about the Chinese textile and garment industry and how the industry can further prosper.

What makes Sunshine stand out among the several Chinese textile companies?

During the last five years, Chinese textile companies were facing pressure from multiple factors like high cost of production, gloomy market, etc which necessitated them to go for technical innovation and upgrading. During the 12th Five Year Plan period, Sunshine implemented product innovation oriented policy, wherein the traditional key-fact-driven method was replaced with a focus on technical research and product innovation resulting in rapid turnaround of Sunshine. Anyone who has visited Sunshine Group will agree that the Sunshine plant is similar to a miniature international textile equipment show in which there exist some of the world's most advanced textile equipment.

Currently, several companies are setting up their manufacturing facilities outside China. Does Sunshine also have any such plan?

As China's economy is intertwined with global economy, the traditional manufacturing industry in China should extend to the world market. Sunshine is planning to set up its own overseas plant to transfer low-end manufacturing, reduce production cost, and avoid tariff and currency risk in export markets.

Will you prefer moving to Southeast Asia?

The key component which determines the translocation of an enterprise is the market potential capacity as well as preferential policy, like government subsidy, etc which will just help you run fast temporarily. Though textile and garment industry is growing fast in some Southeast Asian countries, China will remain the most important market for EU and the US. China's textile and garment industry has the highest share in world exports, which means that China will remain indispensible in world textile economic system.

How do you perceive African countries for setting up overseas plant?

I have recently been to Ethiopia which offers lot of advantages for the textile industry-plenty of labour force, suitable land for cotton cultivation, and enormous demand for textiles and garments. So, I think it is worthwhile to launch a project involving the complete textile value chain from growing cotton, textile processing to garment manufacturing, as textile industry backgrounds are weak in Ethiopia and other neighbouring countries.

Now the US has launched its "Reindustrialisation" project, Germany has initiated its "Industry 4.0", and China its "Made in China 2025". How will Sunshine deal with this upcoming trend?

In view of the fading cost advantage, our traditional manufacturing industry should upgrade itself with intellectual function, modern design, high production and administration efficiency and strong service system through the integration of Internet technology and logistic system to boost prospective economic future. Hence, Sunshine Group should design and set up its general intellectual information system and its manufacturing procedure for spinning, weaving, dyeing and garment manufacturing with the integration of automatic and intellectual system. This will lead to 20-30 per cent increase in production efficiency, and meet international advanced industry needs.

Great, so according to your opinion, what kind of textile manufacturing we can expect to see in future - labour-oriented or completely automatic?

In view of 'Made in China 2025' project, I foresee fully intellectual enterprises with intellectual equipments having high production efficiency and fewer operators monitoring the production process from wool fibre to fashion woollen garment. But, I do not think a textile and garment factory with really no staff would become a reality due to multi special procedures which need to be supervised, etc. Also, I think it is perfect for an enterprise to have few technical workers monitoring lesser procedures.

How do you ensure that all your products meet international standards?

At Sunshine, the problem is resource integration and not technical design. So, we have implemented the "new barrow theory" to improve the core competence by identifying potential risk in daily operation and enhance the core advantage utilisation. In terms of product quality, our philosophy states, among other things: "There exists only qualified product (latitude). Always keep improving (longitude)." The latitude part takes care of ISO quality system on a daily basis, while the longitude part refers to improvement in purchase chain, product innovation, technical promotion, etc. The interpretation of latitude administration includes the twin-zero quality system. The first is to guarantee the zero loss of customers by detail retrospection in product manufacturing procedures and the second is zero re-accident through retrospection of product trial manufacturing, daily production, and equipment maintenance as well as staff responsibility.

Earlier during the talk you said Sunshine plant is a miniature international textile equipment show. What do you think about domestic textile machinery and equipment?

That is a great question. There are several advantages with international equipments like better utilisation of material, longer life span, higher processing accuracy and advanced intellectual operation system. If China has to move forward from being a huge textile manufacturing country to a great textile manufacturing country, I expect domestic equipments to be well designed with better quality.
Published on: 13/01/2016

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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